Last week I brought you an excerpt from my upcoming release of The Broken Tree that featured Henry and Lydie. This week for #TeaserTuesday I’m featuring another couple in the book, Edward and Tilda. Enjoy!
The Broken Tree, copyright 2019 Kellie Butler. All rights reserved.
As soon as the car had rolled down the drive carrying Henry’s family and Dr. Everby, Edward made his way to put his romantic afternoon plans with Tilda into action. He knew she wouldn’t be busy with work today, so there was no reason she should avoid him. There was no propriety to keep. The moment Lydie had mentioned this morning that her family would be gone for the afternoon, he had ideas rolling through his head.
Tilda had said that she thought that their relationship was a bit of a fun for him, and that simply had not been true. If anything, she was the reason he worked so hard to make a name for himself. He wanted her to have someone she could be proud of. Sometimes that had taken him away from her, but during those long, lonely nights he had thought of her golden curls that tumbled down to her shoulders.
He had left the morning room and had set off towards the kitchen to work up a feast for him and Tilda, if he could distract her away. He had seen her going into Dr. Lane’s office with Henry, all pouty and what not. He wondered what that conversation had been about. Part of him wondered if she had a bit of fixation on Henry. Edward had seen the way she had blushed with him and the deference she gave to his brother-in-law whenever he spoke. There was a quiet confidence to Henry that he had seen plenty of nurses gravitate to back in New York. Fortunately for Edward, Henry had fallen hook, line, and sinker, for Lydie.
He hadn’t seen Henry in several years, though, and goodness knows people changed. Relationships changed. It had hit Edward hard that Tilda hadn’t been receptive to his advances when he returned to Laurelhurst. He had expected a much warmer homecoming. Instead, he had gotten a comparison between himself and his brother-in-law. He almost wondered if he had something to be worried about.
However, he realized that Henry was just as in love with Lydie as he ever had been. Lydie had taken to her bed after their visit with Mrs. Potts, and instead of making his visit with patients, Henry had stayed with her. When they had finally emerged at dinner, although Lydie still appeared slightly shaken and upset, Henry’s calm presence had bolstered her throughout the evening. He shouldn’t have been surprised. His brother-in-law valued loyalty and stayed true to his commitments.
Yet for some reason Tilda had this fixation on Henry. She almost had a fanatical attachment to them, so than with any other charges she had ever had. It wasn’t healthy.
Maybe being here these past two years had her yearning for a different sort of life. Perhaps he had been insensitive to her thoughts and needs. He had only thought of himself, thinking that the companionship and camaraderie that she had said she loved here would see help make things easier. Far easier than it had been for him.
Perhaps what she saw in Henry and Lydie was the chance for excitement. He had to do something about it. And then he had thought of it. There had been a few precious possessions that he had requested from his parents. He had heartily agreed that Henry and Lydie would take their gold wedding bands. At the time, he never thought he would get married. But he had asked Lydie for his mother’s engagement ring and she had given it to him gladly.
So, after Henry and Lydie left the house, he went to the kitchen and requested the cook fix up a picnic basket and bring out one of the best bottles of wine, one that he had reserved for Lydie’s homecoming, only to discover she wasn’t drinking. Henry was over-protective of her diet. With the basket ready, he went in search of Tilda, whom he had found straightening the girls’ bed.
“If you keep straightening those pillows, they’re going to come to life,” Edward said as he walked in.
Tilda caressed the pillows. “I just want to make sure everything is as it should be when the family returns.”
“They just left and won’t be back for hours. You’re off-duty, Tilda. Fancy stepping out into the sunlight with me? It’s a gorgeous day and I have a special afternoon planned for us. Come on, let the maids take care of that!”
“Not like I can. Let me finish my duties and then I’ll go out with you.”
“Fair enough,” Edward glanced around the room. Stuffed animals and dolls were on chairs and the floor in the girls’ room. “They have a lot of toys, don’t they?”
“Oh, yes. Nora loves her doll and Suzy loves her bunny.”
“You’re quite attached to them, aren’t you? They’ll be leaving in a few short weeks. Practicing for children of your own?”
“Yes,” she picked up the stuffed white bunny that had fallen on the floor and caressed it. “More than anything but with the right man, of course.”
“Then might I suggest instead of caressing that bunny that you turn your attention to a warm man such as me?”
Tilda sat the bunny down on the quilted coverlet. “I’m looking for someone like Dr. Bainbridge. That’s the kind of man a girl wants.”
“Who happens to be my brother-in-law.”
“I know that, but if your sister found a man like him, I can too! He’s so kind and loyal. He wouldn’t leave his wife for two years and gallivant off to parts unknown, unless he had to. He’d stay with her.”
“So, that is what this is about. You are upset that I was away for two years. It was no picnic, Tilda. You try living in a tent for nearly two years. Since you are so fixated on Henry and Lydie, let me tell you something about them. Henry was in Korea for two years, and Lydie gave him the biggest homecoming when he returned because she loved him. What’s more, Lydie was away for three months in Paris before they married , and Henry had a big welcome home party waiting for her when she opened the door to our flat on her return. They have been away from each other several times, but they have always stayed loyal to each other.
Tilda sighed. “He’d know what to do.”
“What’s all this business about Henry, anyway? Darling, come out to the garden. Please, I have…”
Tilda pushed him away. “Edward, I have asked the Bainbridges if I can go to New York with them as their nurse.”
Edward’s mouth fell open and then shut quickly. “You what? What did they say?”
“Well, I asked Mrs. Lydia first and didn’t seem all that keen about the idea. Threw up all sorts of things I wouldn’t like about it.”
“Mhm, and what did Henry say?”
“He wondered why I was asking him after I had run it by her. He said they would have to discuss it and get back to me.” Edward’s lips curled into a smile, which made her angry. “What are you grinning about?”
“It’s what I expected from them. Do you think you still have a chance to set sail for America? Has Blighty’s shores become too dull for you?”
“I won’t dismiss it until they do, and why shouldn’t a girl be excited about the chance of living in New York?”
“You lived in London and that wasn’t enough for you?”
“Everything shuts down in London. It’s dead after midnight, but in New York everything is possible! Besides, your sister ended up with a dreamy man.”
“Lydie had her share of heartache, too. The streets of New York aren’t always kind, Tilda. Besides, when will you get the chance to meet this dream man when you’ll be at home with Lydia and the children six days out of the week? She’ll need you.”
“I’ll get my day off. Then I can go into the city and explore. Plus, they are around quality people.”
“And you think you’ll have time to meet one of his colleagues when your primary job will be to take care of the little one so Lydia can actually entertain people? Do you think you’re going to be sitting around the dinner table with them?” Edward backed away towards the door.
“Because let me give you a word of advice. Although Henry is a compassionate man, he doesn’t suffer fools easily. Your priority had better be doing your job, which in this case is taking care of his wife and children. If he gets any inkling that you’re playing him for a fool, he will not tolerate it. Ever. I’ve seen nurses try to seduce him and it never worked.”
“They aren’t me. I think he’ll see things my way.”
“Do you think Lydia will?”
“She trusts me.”
“She won’t trust you if she thinks you’re trying to make a play for her husband. You try that and you’d be out on your ear faster than you can change your knickers. To think that this afternoon I was going to give you my mother’s engagement ring. I don’t think you deserve it now, because I clearly see for what you are.” Edward turned around and headed towards the door.
“Edward! You didn’t say anything about an engagement ring!”
“I wanted to, but you were too busy thinking about your possible life in America! I’d better go out to the garden. I’m afraid the picnic I planned for us will spoil.” He turned abruptly and left.
“Edward!” Tilda ran after him, but he was already on his way down the stairs. Oh, she had mucked this up.